White collar crime has featured prominently in the biggest financial news stories of the past few decades. From Enron to Bernie Madoff, these cases have the power to both captivate and terrify. But even if you're familiar with some of the most infamous white collar cases, there's still a lot about financial crime that the average person doesn't understand. In fact, there are numerous misconceptions.
Any white collar criminal defense lawyer will tell you that these crimes are probably more common than you'd think and that the consequences are often more serious than you'd assume. In today's post, we're clearing up some of the most common misguided beliefs about financial crimes.
MISCONCEPTION: Those who commit these types of federal crimes are never punished -- especially if they're rich and famous.
Reality: Some people are under the impression that prosecutors won't even try to prosecute most suspected white collar criminals due to their job or social standing. There's a common belief that if you have money and power, you can buy your way out of trouble. While it's certainly true that some rich and famous individuals who have reportedly committed crimes have received nothing more than a slap on the wrist, that's not always the case. In fact, many of the most infamous instances of financial crimes have involved wealthy or well-known individuals. Being famous and beloved didn't keep Martha Stewart out of jail. And while you might not serve a life sentence for embezzlement or insider trading, you could very well be sentenced to several years in prison (whether you're affluent or not).
MISCONCEPTION: Only men commit financial crimes.
Reality: While many of the most high-profile white collar crimes have been committed by men, that doesn't mean it's a male-only arena. In fact, the 2017 Hiscox Embezzlement Study found that women commit the majority (51%) of embezzlement crimes. You may not always see the perpetrators on the front page, but any white collar crime attorney will tell you that many of those responsible for these acts are women. It is true, however, that fewer female executives take on leading roles or even participate in these crimes. This is perhaps because there are still barriers women face in order to land these positions in the first place. But executives are not the only individuals who commit these crimes, either. Many everyday folks perform illegal acts every day, and those acts include financial crimes. So before you dismiss someone as "not being the type" to commit a white collar crime, you might want to think twice.
MISCONCEPTION: White collar crimes are relatively rare.
Reality: Even though you may not hear about these crimes on a daily basis, they're still happening all around us. By definition, white collar crimes don't involve violence or bodily harm, and so the media usually only highlights the most sensational stories. That would explain why you're not quite as familiar with the types of white collar crimes that occur more frequently (and often on a smaller scale). If the case involves someone who's unknown to the public or doesn't have that exciting an angle to plug, the story may never make the nightly news broadcast. But these crimes happen quite frequently and can be completely life altering for those involved.
MISCONCEPTION: Because punishments for financial crimes can't compare to the ones for violent crimes, you don't need a white collar crime lawyer to help you.
Reality: This might be the worst misconception of all. If you've been questioned about or accused of a crime like this, you absolutely need assistance from a white collar crime lawyer. Whether or not you committed the acts of which you're accused, securing a white collar crime lawyer is the best way to protect your rights throughout this process. Thinking you can handle these issues yourself is a completely misguided belief. While your white collar crime lawyer might not be able to have the charges against you dropped, they're in the best position to negotiate and to facilitate a positive resolution.
If you've been accused of fraud, embezzlement, forgery, or any other type of financial crime, you deserve help from the most well-respected white collar crime lawyers San Francisco can provide. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact our firm today.